Breaking Barriers: Birmingham & Solihull ICS and BVSC secure £100k to increase diversity in community engagement and community-led research! BVSC are thrilled to announce we've been awarded a £100k NHS Research Engagement Network (REN) development grant. Our partnership brings together a team from Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (BSol ICB), Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC), Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC), voluntary and community sector partners Flourish and Catalyst 4 Change and regional National Institute for Health and Care Research Infrastructures hosted at the University of Birmingham. Together, we want to reshape the ways in which health inequalities across Birmingham and Solihull are addressed. Our vision is simple yet powerful: to empower underserved communities to play a more active role in research, ensuring that every voice is not just heard, but actively shapes healthcare research. In the next six months, we’re laying the groundwork for a transformative era: Step One: Identifying and bridging gaps in community engagement in research Step Two: creating seamless networks that eliminate duplication and strengthen community bonds Step three: addressing existing power imbalances through genuine community collaboration Our driving ambition? To empower communities, foster trust, and cultivate relationships that endure far beyond the initial funding. But that’s not all! This funding will also support us to establish the Birmingham & Solihull Research and Community Engagement Hub (BIRCH), led by BVSC. This collaborative network will bring together healthcare providers, local government, the voluntary and community sector, public contributors, and academia – redefining the landscape of community led research, engagement and participation. BIRCH will be closely aligned with the BSOL ICSs innovative Community Engagement Framework and other city-wide initiatives and promises the creation of shareable toolkits and resources, bringing together best practices and shared knowledge and expertise. Join us in celebrating this exciting new chapter as we work together to tackle the healthcare inequalities that currently exist across Birmingham & Solihull. If you have any questions about this project please email Sophie Wilson, [email protected].